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LEADING MEDICINE W INT ER 017

6 YOUR BACK PAIN

REASONS BEHIND

FROM EVERYDAY ATHLETES TO OLYMPIC

CHAMPIONS

How Simone Biles Discovered Another Winning Team

GET THE FACTS ABOUT STROKE

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

YOUR LINK TO HEALTH INNOVATIONS, NEWS AND TIPS IN WEST HOUSTON/KATY


MORE THAN MEDICINE: Lifestyle Changes Can Lessen Cardiac Concerns

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s your heart at risk? It might be. One in 4 deaths in the United States are caused by heart disease each year. Heart disease is so dangerous because many chronic conditions that lead to it are stealth foes slowly damaging your heart. Dr. John Y. Sunew, a cardiologist at Houston Methodist West Hospital, explained some of the most Dr. John Sunew common cardiac conditions and what you can do to help protect yourself.

3 DANGEROUS CONDITIONS

High cholesterol – Individuals with high cholesterol are twice as likely to develop heart disease as those with lower cholesterol levels. “When you have too much cholesterol, it builds up in the walls of blood vessels,” Sunew explained. “When this occurs in the arteries of the heart, it can lead to a heart attack.” Regular screenings can help detect high cholesterol, which often goes otherwise undetected as it typically presents no symptoms. High blood pressure – One-third of U.S. adults 2 have high blood pressure, a condition that can have potentially life-threatening consequences. “High blood pressure has been called the silent killer,” Sunew said. “High blood pressure affects the entire body, putting you at higher risk for stroke, heart attack and atrial fibrillation and can also put strain on your kidneys, causing damage.” Atrial fibrillation (AFib) – Atrial fibrillation, 3 or AFib, is one of the most common heart arrhythmias, and a potential risk factor for stroke and heart failure. “In a normal heartbeat, the heart has a natural pacemaker that fires electricity located in the right upper chamber of the heart,” Sunew explained. “In between a normal beat, the heart rests. With atrial fibrillation, the heart has beats coming from different locations than the natural pacemaker, which can cause extra heart beats.”

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REDUCING YOUR RISKS

While these cardiac conditions must be taken seriously, effective treatment options exist for all of them. In addition to medical treatment options, changes to your lifestyle can help increase your odds of healthy recovery.

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“Many diseases of the heart are caused or worsened by living a sedentary life with poor eating habits,” Sunew said. “Combining effective treatment with lifestyle changes offers the best hope for a healthier life for most people. That’s why the first thing we do for cardiac patients at Houston Methodist West is implement patient education to help develop healthy dietary and exercise habits.”

Get Screened

February is American Heart Month. Do you know your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers? Regular screening is important to help protect yourself from the dangers of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Call 832.522.5522 to get a referral to a Houston Methodist West doctor.


GET THE FACTS ABOUT STROKE What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

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s with most things in life, a little awareness can go a long way. This is especially true when it comes to your health. While it may not get as much attention as other serious diseases, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the primary cause of serious long-term disability for Americans. And it’s not just older adults who are at risk. In fact, about a third of strokes occur in people under the age of 65.* So no matter your age, it’s never too early to learn what you can do to prevent stroke.

STROKE 101

A stroke occurs when blood flow in the brain is interrupted and brain cells die. There are two main types of stroke: An ischemic stroke results when an artery in the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot. A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a blood vessel in the brain that bursts.

PREVENTABLE STROKE RISK FACTORS

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High blood pressure increases stroke risk by two to four times. The condition weakens and narrows blood vessels in the brain and increases the risk of blood clots. What you can do: Maintain a healthy blood pressure by exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet low in sodium and taking blood pressure medication as prescribed.

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Obesity increases your risk of stroke. Studies suggest this is due to obesity’s strong association with other conditions that raise your stroke risk, such as heart disease and diabetes. What you can do: Help your waistline by cutting your calorie intake, limiting foods high in saturated and trans fats and cholesterol, and being physically active. Smoking puts you at greater risk for stroke — and the more you smoke, the greater the risk. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage your cells, thicken your blood and increase the plaque in your arteries, increasing the likelihood of blood clots. What you can do: Counseling, nicotine patches and medicine can help you quit.

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* Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

TREATING STROKE IN THE NICK OF TIME If you or a loved one suffers a stroke, every minute counts. Getting immediate treatment at the right facility is essential. Houston Methodist West Hospital is a DNV-certified Primary Stroke Center. We offer stroke sufferers the most advanced treatments available, including Treatment for ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke 24/7 neurocritical care, to provide immediate stroke intervention and care Stroke outreach program, providing education on stroke recognition and prevention Houston Methodist West is also a recipient of the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association’s “Get With The Guidelines® – Gold Plus Award for 2016.” This award recognizes that we provide treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines developed with the latest scientific evidence.

Be Stroke Smart

Help prevent a new or recurrent stroke by reducing your risk factors. To learn more about the Houston Methodist approach to stroke care, visit houstonmethodist.org/ stroke, or call 832.522.5522 for a physician referral. CHECK OUT OUR DIGITAL MAGAZINE AT HOUSTONMETHODIST.ORG/PUBLICATIONS  3


FROM EVERYDAY ATHLETES

TO OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS How Simone Biles Discovered Another Winning Team

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hether you’re shooting hoops in the neighborhood with friends or training for a marathon, physical activity provides many benefits, both short and long-term. But as Olympic Gold Medalist Simone Biles discovered, pushing your body can also occasionally mean dealing with injuries. Getting the right care can help you get back into the game faster and more safely. Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine offers unparalleled care thanks to a diverse team of doctors and health care professionals that works together to ensure you are able to safely participate in the activities you enjoy. Our all-star team includes P  rimary care sports medicine doctors who combine orthopedic knowledge with holistic primary care F  oot and ankle specialists who expertly treat ankle sprains and other injuries

Taking Care of Houston’s Best

By studying elite athletes and helping them stay at the top of their game, we’re improving the quality of care for all athletes. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call 832.522.BONE (2663).

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O  rthopedic surgeons who perform precise surgeries to relieve pain and increase mobility N  eurologists who ensure a safe return to play after a concussion H  and and wrist specialists who provide relief for arthritis and nerve injuries P  hysical and occupational therapists who create customized rehabilitation plans specially tailored for each patient Our team is trusted as the official health care provider for the Houston Texans, Houston Astros, Houston Dynamo, Houston Dash, Rice University Athletics, RodeoHouston and Houston Ballet, among others. Just as we help those elite athletes, our team ensures that every patient receives the same standard of excellent care, so they can cross their own finish line, whatever it may be.

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CARING FOR AN OLYMPIAN

Among the most recognizable athletes whom Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine has treated is 19-year-old Olympic gymnast Simone Biles. As a world-class competitor, Biles is no stranger to the ailments that can accompany rigorous training. Shortly before she was to compete in the 2013 World Gymnastics Championships, Biles “landed short,” damaging the neck of the talus, one of the bones in the ankle. As a result, she sought care from her primary care sports medicine physician, Dr. Scott

Rand, who has been Biles’ doctor since 2012. With World Championships looming, Rand knew that a surgical option was out of the question for Biles. Instead, Rand was able to administer ultrasound-guided injections to reduce inflammation and provide her with pain relief. With her pain in check, Biles went on to win an individual all-around gold medal that year.

PREPARING BILES FOR GOLD

After the competition, Rand enlisted the help of Houston Methodist foot and ankle


PREVENTING COMMON SPORTS INJURIES You don’t have to be an elite athlete like Simone Biles to suffer an injury. Playing a sport or getting in shape is a worthwhile fitness goal, as long as inadequate stretching, poor training Dr. P. Timothy habits, outdated gear or Sprockel accidents don’t trip you up on the way to good health. Sprains, strains and stress fractures are all common. They’re also, in many cases, preventable. Dr. P. Timothy Sprockel, primary care sports medicine specialist at Houston Methodist West Hospital, offers these tips for avoiding common sports related injuries. Get the go-ahead from your doctor. Schedule a physical to make sure you’re in good health before starting a new sport. Wear the right gear. Make sure you have the proper protective equipment, clothing and well-fitting shoes designed for the sport you are doing. Protective eye wear is important for impact sports. Helmets are a must for bicyclists. Play by the rules. Know and follow the basic rules of the sport to avoid accidents. Simone Biles pictured with Dr. Travis Hanson (l) and Dr. Scott Rand (r).

specialist Dr. Travis Hanson to remove the bone spur. For an elite gymnast like Biles, the surgery had to be as minimally invasive as possible to minimize scar tissue and achieve better range of motion. After surgery and rehabilitation at Houston Methodist Willowbrook, Biles went on to make the cut to become one of the “Final Five” on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, competing in and earning gold medals in the team and individual all-around, vault and floor exercise as well as earning a bronze medal for balance beam.

“As athletes, we’re always going to have aches and pains, but when your teammates cheer you on, you don’t think about it,” Biles said recently. “The Houston Methodist team really helped me as well. They kept me focused on my goals and I trusted them — they really care and are an amazing team to work with. I had complete confidence in them and just didn’t worry about the injury.”

Warm up and stretch. Warming up gradually increases the heart rate and can prevent muscle strain and joint injury. Stay hydrated. Don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water before, during and after your activity. Tune in to your body. Be aware of any aches or pains you’re experiencing. Avoid playing when you’re too tired or in pain. Strengthen your muscles. Resistance training using weights can make you stronger and less prone to injury.

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6BACK PAIN Reasons Behind Your

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wo-thirds of Americans experience low back pain according to the American Physical Therapy Association. In fact, almost all of us experience back or neck pain at some point in our lives, some of us frequently. Dr. B. Christoph Fortunately, by making a few simple changes Meyer in your daily routines, you can often eliminate or reduce pain in these areas. “Decreasing the stress on our back and neck, and strengthening the supporting structures are the key,” said Dr. B. Christoph Meyer, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Houston Methodist West Hospital. Here are some reasons you may be suffering with neck or back pain, and what you can do about them:

1

BEING OVERWEIGHT

This puts an incredible amount of additional stress on the lower back. “Losing as little as five to 10 pounds can make a huge difference. Start by controlling portion size,” Meyer said.

2

INSUFFICIENT EXERCISE

Regular aerobic activity, such as walking, is associated with decreased pain and improved function. It’s also a good idea to do back- and abdominal-strengthening exercises, Meyer said, as well as chin tucks and stretching for the neck. “Stronger core muscles decrease strain on disks and joints in the back, and these are what actually cause chronic back and neck pain. Exercises should ideally be done every day, but even doing them three days a week can result in important changes.”

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BAD POSTURE

Stand up straight with your head up and avoid slouching. If you stand for long periods of time, support yourself by leaning against a counter or placing your arms on a work surface to reduce the load on your back.

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POOR SLEEP

Not getting enough sleep may be associated with higher rates of degenerative changes in the back and neck and makes it more difficult to lose weight. Studies suggest eight hours’ sleep a night is best for most of us.

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“Spend time trying out mattresses to find which is most comfortable for you,” Meyer advised, “Because different mattresses work for different people.”

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SMOKING

The substances in cigarette smoke are linked to faster degeneration of your disks and higher rates of back pain.

SHOE PROBLEMS

High heels can shift alignment of the spine, which can lead to back pain in some people. If this seems to be the case, Meyer recommended trying lower heels or flats if you’ll be standing or walking.

Specialist Help for Back and Neck Pain

If your back or neck pain persists or becomes severe, you may benefit from a consultation at Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine at West. To make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist, call 832.522.2663.


Finding Relief FOR PELVIC PAIN P elvic pain can occur at any point in a person’s life but it’s much more typical in women following a pelvic surgery, such as a Julie Brewer hysterectomy or a cesarean section, said Julie Brewer, a board-certified women’s health physical therapist in the outpatient rehabilitation department at Houston Methodist West Hospital. Pelvic problems aren’t specific to females. Brewer also treats bowel and bladder conditions, pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, sexual dysfunction and pelvic muscular issues in both men and women. Specialized physical therapy is incredibly effective in treating pelvic pain, but Brewer reports that patients often turn to it as a last resort. “They may have been treated unsuccessfully with surgery, medication and even narcotic pain medication,” Brewer said. “But some patients see improvements in their pain after just one session, though the average is six to eight weeks of weekly visits.”

Next, Brewer typically performs a vaginal or rectal pelvic floor muscle exam. “That’s currently the gold standard of setting a baseline of the pelvic floor muscles,” she said. “When a patient has pain, I can identify the muscles that are causing pain and assess their strength and coordination.” The rest of the session, and subsequent sessions, consists of education, exercises, coordination and biofeedback, which uses sensors and electrodes to get an objective representation of a patient’s muscle activity. Brewer also performs therapy to reduce muscle spasm and pain, and to improve joint mobility. Between sessions, most patients are encouraged to continue their physical therapy at home but Brewer’s philosophy is to make any “homework” realistically fit into their schedule.

Take the Next Step

To find out more, call Houston Methodist West Physical Therapy at 832.522.8200.

EASING EMBARRASSMENT

“I understand how private and embarrassing these problems can be,” Brewer said. “I’m very passionate about what I do. There is hope and there is help, and these problems are often very treatable through physical therapy.”

WHAT TO EXPECT

Pelvic floor physical therapy sessions last about 45 minutes, though the initial evaluation lasts about an hour. At the first appointment, Brewer reviews the patient’s medical and personal history, discussing their symptoms, when they started and whether they’ve progressed or worsened. “I want to understand all I can about how this person’s condition affects his or her life,” she said.

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WHAT IF ONE DOCTOR COULD CONNECT YOU WITH THE EXPERTISE OF MANY?

EMERGENCY CARE CENTERS HOSPITALS SPECIALTY HOSPITALS IMAGING CENTERS COMPREHENSIVE CARE CENTER

Just around the corner Houston Methodist has locations throughout the Greater Houston area to best serve you near your home or workplace. Our locations include hospitals, emergency care and imaging centers.

HOSPITALS 1. Houston Methodist Hospital 2. Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital 3. Houston Methodist St. John Hospital 4. Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital 5. Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital Opening July 2017 6. Houston Methodist West Hospital 7. Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital

SPECIALTY HOSPITAL 8. Houston Methodist St. Catherine Hospital

IMAGING CENTERS 5. Houston Methodist Breast Care Center at The Woodlands

At Houston Methodist, your primary care doctor collaborates with world-renowned specialists every day, bringing you wideranging medical expertise, personalized for you, with convenient locations and same-day appointments you can schedule online. Your health, your way — that’s how the highest ranked hospital in Texas puts you first. Accepting most major insurance plans. Choose your doctor or schedule online at houstonmethodist.org/stayhealthy or call 832.522.5522.

EMERGENCY CARE CENTERS 713.441.ER24 (3724) 9. Houston Methodist Emergency Care Center at Kirby 10. Houston Methodist Emergency Care Center at Voss 11. Houston Methodist Emergency Care Center in Cinco Ranch 12. Houston Methodist Emergency Care Center in Cypress 13. Houston Methodist Emergency Care Center in Pearland 14. Houston Methodist Emergency Care Center in Sienna Plantation 15. Houston Methodist Emergency Care Center in Spring

9. Houston Methodist Breast Care Center

COMPREHENSIVE CARE CENTER

16. Houston Methodist Imaging Center

17. Houston Methodist Comprehensive Care Center at Pearland

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Leading Medicine Winter 2017, Houston Methodist West Hospital edition  

Read about three dangerous health conditions — high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and atrial fibrillation — that can lead to heart disea...

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